Your Child Has Been Diagnosed with Autism. What should you do?
When you are raising a child, you continuously monitor him or her. You watch what they eat. You watch what they drink. You make sure they’re reaching their developmental milestones. You take notice of how they interact with other children.
Or are the best judge of how your child is doing. But, what happens if things just aren’t going as planned? What happens if your child isn’t hitting all those developmental markers? Perhaps, you take him or her to a doctor and describe what you are seeing.
After a series of appointments, you find out: Your child has been diagnosed with Autism. Now what should you do?
It can be a scary time when the initial diagnosis of Autism is made. After all, this is your child. But, now is the time to spring into action, not let the fear of the unknown take over. You can handle this. You just have to take some crucial steps.
Find compassionate and capable professionals to work with your child and your family.
Depending on where your child falls on the Autism spectrum will help determine which professionals you need to be working with. Do you need a pediatrician, neurologist, psychologist or psychiatrist? Do you need an audiologist, speech therapist or physical therapist? What about qualified teachers?
There are a lot of people who can help your child (and you). Keep in mind, that it may not be the very first people you meet after you receive your child’s diagnosis. What’s that saying? Different strokes for different folks.
If the fit between your child and a professional dedicated to helping children with Autism is not perfect, keep looking. My friend, Dimitria Manning, has a 5 year old boy, Landon. She credits his therapists and teachers with the immense progress his communication has made in the last 16 months since his diagnosis. Dimitria said, “His communication has shown so much growth in this past year.
I know that his therapy sessions are helping and his amazing teachers and staff at school, too.” A proper match with the right professionals goes a long way in aiding your child.
Read information from reputable resources.
The internet is full of information. Full of it. In fact, before you ever even received an official diagnosis of Autism, you probably scanned the web to look up some of the signs your child may have shown. But, the internet can be overwhelming at times, too. How do you know that the information you are reading is reliable? What resources are considered reputable?
This is why Step #1 is so critically important. All of those professionals that you have helping your child can direct you to the information you need. They will know the best books to read and the best websites for research. They will have loads of information at their offices that they will share with you – all you have to do is ask.
And, of course, start with the leader of online information and sharing for Autism: Autism Speaks.
Find Your Tribe.
Okay, you’ve got a group of professionals to help your child. You have resources to read. But, what about those people who will support you and your child on a daily basis? Perhaps you need other parents to talk with. Maybe your child needs friends and peers to play with. Finding “your tribe” is an equally important step.
Your doctors, therapists, and other professionals may have lists that they can share with you – so be sure to ask. No one knows better about how you are feeling than another parent with a similar diagnosis.
Additionally, with the popularity of social media, a quick search of Facebook may help you find play groups for your child or online groups that can assist you with the day-to-day questions you may have.
Dimitria said, “I am not part of a group in-person for children with special needs, but, I am in one on Facebook for the local families. It has a lot of information and if I have any questions, there are veterans in there that can help pretty accurately.”
An initial diagnosis of Autism can be overwhelming and, maybe, even a little frightening. But, when you have gathered your team of professionals, read some reputable resources about Autism, and found a group of people to support you with the day-to-day challenges, you will find yourself – AND YOUR CHILD – on the right path.
Dimitria said, “It has been a year and 4 months since his diagnosis and he has progressed leaps and bounds.” And, isn’t that what every parent wants?